Profiles in Safety


In the boxing ring, Joe Louis was right that, “You can’t hit what you can’t see.” But, on our roads and highways, it’s just the opposite. Vehicles that are faded, dirty and have an otherwise poorly maintained appearance are much less noticeable. Also recent studies have shown lack of company pride in fleet appearance can have a negative effect on drive morale and their concern for safe, defensive driving.

Fleets that appreciate the importance of maintaining a positive company image can implement a cost effective program within even a limited maintenance budget. Only two tings are required. First, buy a paint (or apply a coating to existing paint) that provides the following: excellent adhesion, gloss retention, an easy-to-clean surface, abrasion, stain and corrosion protection, and easy touch-ups if damaged. Then, wash regularly. While some fleets report good results from specifying a quality factory applied urethane paint on their new vehicle purchases, other report less success and have continued to seek alternatives. One that has received substantial favorable response is a unique nylon-acrylic coating manufactured by Vivilon Coatings, Inc., of Miami, FL.

With minimal downtime and at a fraction of the cost of repainting, an entire fleet can get a cosmetic facelift that should last from 5 to 10 years.

The idea of applying a clear coat of paint over an existing pigmented surface is not a new one. Fleet managers have been using various clear paints as a stop gap measure for years. The difference is in the application process and product itself. Surface preparation is accomplished by an easy two-step process. A special degreaser is applied by brushed on to soften oxidation. Then the paint is scrubbed with an abrasive pad and powder. This mechanically cleans the paint and provides for excellent friction bonding of the Vivilon. After a thorough water rinse and when the paint is dry, the spraying of the Vivilon clear coat can proceed. (At this point, any clear paint or coating that is compatible with the underlying paint could be used with good results.)

Factors managers need to consider in making their choice of coatings include durability, ease of maintenance, flexibility and net cost per square food covered. Since the Vivilon product is clear, only windows and mirrors need be masked for overspray protection. This can be done with paper or wax. If touch up needs to be done, a matching color to that used by the vehicle manufacturer will ensure a uniform appearance. Vivilon will restore the original color, tone and gloss to the non-touched up area blending it into the touched up area for a uniform appearance. No special equipment or facilities are required.

Most fleets apply the product in one of their service or wash bays. Ideal spraying temperature ranges from 70-90 degrees. Adding retarders or lacquer thinners on warmer or colder days may be necessary for optimum gloss retention and drying. No catalysts or other additives are required because the product is a single stage ambient cured coating. Any product left over can be returned to a separate air-tight container where it will remain usable indefinitely.

Vivilon can also be wet sanded, sprayed over with any lacquer, enamel or urethane color coat, and spot reapplied after any body repairs that may be needed because the product has the ability to anneal to itself or any other coating. No buffing, waxing, polishing, or other care is required once it is cured.

Obviously, there are limitations to this method of refinishing. Since it is a clear coating, vehicles which are subject to substantial repetitive body damage, are not good candidates. For those vehicles that have fading to the primer, cracked or peeling paint, or deep scratches, clear coating can only be done after those problems are attended to completely. But, where the paint and decals are only faded; or where a fleet decides to use a clear coat as a preventative measure to aid in protecting paint appearance on new vehicles, products like Vivilon may best serve the long-term interest of the fleet.

A grocery store chain had this dull faded truck restored in a couple of hours for under $200 with Vivilon clear coating mentioned in this article. Notice how the decals also were restored rather than replaced.

The Private Carrier
November 1995